SCP E129 Smart Communities that help people thrive, with Katherine Loflin

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In this episode I had a brilliant chat with Dr. Katherine Loflin, an award-winning, internationally-recognized trailblazer in place science, earning her the moniker of The City Doctor. Katherine tells us about her background in social work and why that’s so powerful in the place making space. Katherine and I discuss the idea of Smart Community as a deliberate community, and why it’s important to be aware when there may be a tale of two cities happening, where one part of the community is thriving while others are just surviving. We explore how fundamental place is to human existence and wellbeing, and the interconnection between place and work. Katherine then tells us about some of the work she does as the Place Doctor, including with cities charting attachment to place, with corporations to help them attract and retain talent, and with Amazing Place Productions, which tells the stories of places. Katherine explains how work-life balance has become more of a focus for citizens and why we need an alternative to the needs-based or social argument when it comes to getting governments and organisations on board with Smart Community concepts. We finish our conversation discussing the need for values-based and common-ground-based conversations around difficult and divisive community issues. As always I hope you enjoyed listening to this episode as much as I enjoyed making it.

Listen here:

What we cover in this episode:

  • Smart Community as a Deliberate Community, and the power of awareness
  • The tale of two cities, and the scale of surviving to thriving
  • Why place is fundamental to human existence and wellbeing
  • How the US is currently embracing Smart concepts
  • The interconnection between place and work, between place and talent attraction/retention
  • Projects Katherine is currently working on as the City Doctor and the systemic power of the Place Doctor model
  • How the digital layer has changed our perception of place and flexible work options
  • The work life balance switch that has occurred from live to work to work to live
  • Why the needs-based or social argument doesn’t work and what we need to be doing instead to get government and organisations on board
  • The emerging trend of talking about our failures and getting scientific and transparent
  • The need for values-based and common-ground-based conversations around difficult and divisive community issues

Quotes:

“For me, the Smart Community is the deliberate community, the community that really understands the dynamics that affect how optimized they are as as a place and how well people are thriving within it…How can communities be very forward facing and understanding the power of their community in a very Smart way, as far as design but also, how it can be the place for humans to thrive?”

“When I talk to communities, I talk about a scale of surviving to thriving, and [is] there A Tale of Two Cities, if you will, where if you’re in this certain category, demographically, you’re experiencing the city in a [very] different way than somebody who’s [in another] category.”

“We don’t really realise that everything about our lives, from the moment we wake up till the time we go to sleep to how well we sleep overnight, is affected by where we live. I mean, it is a fundamental concept to the human existence”

“I do research and practice in actually helping cities start to track how attached residents are to their place. I am delighted and to see that so many mayors…are starting to look at attachment-based metrics as part of their report card that they study about themselves that they deliver to their communities every year. So, as much as economic growth is charted, attachment is starting to be charted.”

“For the first time in our country, young people will choose place over job. And that one simple change in the way that people are looking for jobs, going to jobs…It has really changed the corporate conversation a lot to understand that the lines between workplace and actual place are very blurred, and they have to dig in around those issues [to attract and retain talent].”

“People still identify and attach to a geography now…Even though technology plays a completely different role than it used to, it hasn’t replaced the need for people to still be human, and be able to interact with other humans in such a way that actually helps them grow and be better humans themselves.”

“You can’t guilt a local government into joining a place-based movement by saying this community is being left behind and this community is being left behind. What you can do that I think is powerful is that you show them why it’s in their best interest to behave this way.”

“[Something] We’re not talking about as much as we should is our failures. I think that we are so excited and motivated to show a track record of progress around place-based initiatives that we hide when something didn’t work the way we thought it would, and implementation didn’t go the way we wanted it to.”

Links:

Soul of the Community, by Knight Foundation

Amazing Place Productions

Connect:

Connect with Katherine on LinkedIn or at City-Doctor.com

Connect with me via email: hello@mysmart.community

Connect via LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook @smartcommpod

The Smart Community Podcast is produced by Ellen Ronalds Keene.

SCP E128 The connection between health outcomes and transport options in Smart Communities, with Monica Olyslagers

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In this episode, I have a fascinating conversation with Monica Olyslagers, the Safe Cities Specialist at iRAP, the International Road Assessment Programme. Monica tells us how moving to Ho Chi Min City at the age of 12 sparked her interest in Cities, and why she is so passionate about cycling and the involvement of women in the transport sector. Monica explains a bit about the work IRAP does in assessing star ratings for road safety for different road user groups. For the past four years, Monica lived in Beijing, China at a time when the city experienced its very own “bicycle revolution” driven by new technologies and we discuss some of the projects she’s worked on there. Monica and I also cover the enormous challenge of improving road safety, and how improving health outcomes in the community is inextricably linked with improving transport options. We finish our conversation discussing the need to question emerging technology trends in light of what kind of world we actually want to live in in the future. As always I hope you enjoyed listening to this episode as much as I enjoyed making it.

Listen here:

What we cover in this episode:

  • How moving to Ho Chi Min City at the age of 12 sparked Monica’s interest in cities
  • Monica’s passion for cycling and the important of women in transport
  • The future of transport services and how it has to change to meet the changing needs of all people
  • The iRAP star rating system on road safety for different road user groups and the enormous challenge of improving road safety globally
  • How improving health outcomes in the community is inextricably linked with improving transport options
  • Why Monica believes citizen health and wellbeing is central to the Smart Community concept
  • The value for a City or government having a “Smart City” arm to facilitate integration across disciplines
  • The rapid change and momentum in ride sharing and bike sharing in China
  • Some of the projects Monica has worked on in her time at IRAP working out of Beijing
  • The benefits of sharing the outcomes and learnings from new projects with others in different cities or regions or countries
  • Why we should be questioning new technology in light of what kind of world we actually want to have in the future

Quotes:

“The transport sector in Australia has been traditionally very male dominated…And I really do believe that women have quite a fundamentally different view to how transport works for them, like what their priorities are, what the choices are….And working in the road safety space, now I’m very conscious that you’ve got to have more female voices in there to help shape what transport looks like in the future.”

“1.25 million lives every year are lost to road crashes [and] 50% of the death rate, on average, in cities is pedestrians. But in lower-middle income countries that figure can be up to 80 in 90%. We’re really facing this enormous challenge…trying to deal with what is a very, very big road safety issue around the world.”

“The more we realise that cities ultimately are going to have to serve as healthy and equitable places for people to live [sustainably] long term, and that people’s health and wellbeing is central to that, [the better]. That is where we we need to be heading.”

“Everywhere is different. It doesn’t matter what kind of technology or what innovation happens. No two things are the same. And it’s it’s actually been a really exciting experience to go around the world and see how cities all over the place are doing things and going forward, but it’s all in a slightly different way.”

“The ability to talk between cities, to share ideas, and to communicate now, I think it’s doing a lot for people and the sector in itself. For the first time, as a professional in this field, it’s no longer just the people you know, within your city or your region, who are working on similar things. You have the ability to then connect across the world!”

“The technology is certainly moving in that direction [of AVs], is it something that we necessarily want? Is a car without a driver any better than a car with a driver, ultimately? And what happens when instead of cars spending 90% of their life parked somewhere that they’re suddenly all the roads?”

Links

iRAP

Bikeable City MasterClass in Denmark

Chinese ride-sharing app DiDi Monica mentioned

Chinese bike-shareing app Mobike

Connect:

Connect with Monica on LinkedIn

Connect with me via email: hello@mysmart.community

Connect via LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook @smartcommpod

The Smart Community Podcast is produced by Ellen Ronalds Keene.

SCP E127 Smart Strategies for Mental Health, with Katherine Flynn

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This month is Self-Care September so we have a new theme all about health and wellbeing. I chose this theme because I’ve been having a lot of conversations lately about how technology and Smart cities can affect our health, and what are the things we can do to use technology and the Smart Communities concept to improve our health and wellbeing.

In this episode of the Smart Community Podcast, I have a really interesting conversation with mental health disruptor and innovator, Katherine Flynn. Katherine tells us about her background in mental health and PR, and why she’s so passionate about Smart strategies for mental health. We talk about how learning about how data can be used in marketing is what sparked her interest in the ways we could be using data and technology to support people’s mental health. Katherine shares with us how she sees Australia embracing Smart concepts in this space currently, and two projects she’s working on – Listen In and Cre8 Dance – that use music and dance, combined with mindfulness practices and technology to support people’s mental health. We finish our chat discussing the emerging trends of technology such as Apps being used in mental health prevention as well as crisis support. As always, I hope you enjoy listening to this episode as much as I enjoyed making it.

Listen here:

What we cover in this episode:

  • Katherine’s background in mental health and PR
  • Why Katherine is so passionate about Smart strategies for mental health
  • How learning about data in marketing sparked her interest in using tech to support mental health
  • What a Smart Community means to Katherine
  • Why we need to be assessing how our experiences online are impacting our mental wellbeing
  • Why Smart Communities are important and how we can use technology better to increase accessibility and engagement
  • How Australia is embracing Smart Community in the realm of mental health
  • Projects Katherine is currently working on that use music and dance, combined with mindfulness practices and technology to support mental health
  • Why ListenIn (which uses music) and why Cre8 Dance (which uses dance) are Smart strategies for mental health
  • Using digital strategies to promote integration across different disciplines, governments, academia, creatives, the community
  • Emerging trends in the mental health space including using apps to treat and prevent mental health problems, and the proactive versus reactive mental health response strategies

Quotes:

“Being involved with community development I got really frustrated with seeing the scale of [mental health crisis] and that unless we develop some Smart strategies, we’re actually only ever really going to get the tip of the iceberg with what we’re dealing with. We need to offer people a little bit more support based on the statistics we’re seeing.”

“It can be really difficult to confront some of this [mental health] stuff, we need to make it engaging and interesting and fun for people.”

“Coming from that mental health perspective, a Smart Community to me is one that is engaged around wellness, around feeling safe and supported from an emotional perspective. I think it’s also providing people with some of the tools that they need and making sure that they’re connected [to support] where relevant.”

“It’s about accessibility to a very big extent and I think even for people that are living in cities, often there is that complication around initial engagement with a [mental health service]. There are online chat messaging support strategies…but again I think we’re waiting til way downtown the track to engage people rather than supporting them and helping out when they’re initially going through those challenges, because you can to some extent have a prevention strategy around that.”

One area I’m particularly interested in working towards is to do with music, because people listen to music all the time, they’re always using it as a coping strategy. 80% of young people use it and say it’s their number one emotional coping strategy, so it’s something that people enjoy, it’s engagement, it’s a way of talking to potentially how they feel, and then how do we support them to navigate from there and giving them some tools to do that.

[Music is] a positive strategy and it’s a positive way of developing resilience and increasing to some extent your immunity to stress, because the reality is that if you’re listening to music in a mindful way, you’re engaging in a mindfulness practice and mindfulness practices are so amazingly therapeutic.

“Digital has a huge amount that it could contribute to making [the mental health engagement] space more and more equitable and fair and amazing”

“We haven’t really brought it all together in the sense of this is how we can make it the most meaningful, the most relevant, the most life saving and helpful strategy. To some extent it’s all happening but we just need it curated in a way that’s going to be meaningful and will actually result in good outcomes.”

“I believe that we can really harness [the senses] to give people the tools to stay strong and say well and it’s almost like going to the gym, not everyone’s a fan of it but it makes you stronger. That’s what mindful strategies can do.”

Links:

Australia’s National Suicide Prevention Advisor

ListenIn

Cre8 Dance

IAP2 The International Association of Public Participation

Calm App

Headspace App

Connect:

Connect with Katherine via her websites katherineflynn.net and heartspaceinternational.com

Connect with me via email: hello@mysmart.community

Connect via LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook @smartcommpod

The Smart Community Podcast is produced by Ellen Ronalds Keene.